You’re finally nearing the end of what feels like a hectic week!

You're ready to reward yourself with a good night's rest, only to start worrying about your paper due tomorrow. You want to ask your professor for an extension but you're feeling scared.

When you start to fall asleep, but feel the stress of your upcoming paper due

While it can seem embarrassing or intimidating to ask for an extension, most professors are willing to help.

However, professors get inundated with requests, especially when they're teaching multiple classes with 50+ students per class.

Making a clear and succinct ask is key to getting a "yes" on your request.

Check Your Course's Policies

Before you ask your professor, read over the class syllabus and course policies. Sometimes professors will have one of the following extension policies:

  • Automatically grant extensions

  • Willing to give an extension in certain circumstances

  • A no-extension policy

If your professor is willing to give an extension, it's best practice to ask ahead of the due date (at least 3-4 days before).

State Your Reason

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Some circumstances are appropriate excuses for an extension:

  • An illness (e.g., flu, cold, COVID-19)

  • A personal emergency (e.g., death or grave illness in the family)

  • A pre-booked vacation

  • Swamped with multiple deadlines

Professors understand that life happens, whether unexpected or planned. If you've reached a point where you can't meet a deadline, contact your professor right away and be honest — trust that they'll appreciate your communication!

Provide Documentation If Possible

While you don't have to go into great detail about your reason for an extension request, some professors might ask for documentation, such as a doctor's note, or other evidence. Be sure to have it ready in case you need to back up your reason.

Professor Potts, I came down with a flu over the weekend and need more time to work on my paper. Could I have a three-day extension? I’d be happy to show you documentation from the University Health Services.

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Suggest A Time Frame

Your professor will likely approve your request if you state how much additional time you need to complete your assignment.

I’ve done most of my paper well in advance, but after doing some revisions, I need to make more edits. Would it be ok to have two additional days to make those changes so I can submit my best possible work?

This shows you're a proactive problem-solver and have put thought into making your request. Plus, it takes one more responsibility off your professor's busy plate!

Propose A Solution

Girl pointing to herself and saying

Explain how you're going to fix the issue so it won’t happen again. If you’ve asked for an extension because you ran out of time, you could explain that:

  • You've now freed up time every Monday afternoon to study

  • You’ve booked sessions at the tutoring center to improve your skills

  • You've talked to your boss to ensure your shifts don’t clash with your studies

How To Make Your Ask

In person

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  • Meet your professor during office hours or approach them after class

  • Talking one-on-one with your professor humanizes you and might help build compassion for your request

  • This approach is great if your assignment is due in less than 72 hours

Email

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  • If you can't meet your professor face to face, write them an email

  • If you've already done some of the work, attach it to your message to show you've put in the effort

  • State the full class name and section number in the introduction

Quiz: What Is This Ask Missing?

Read the following email and choose the correct answer to the quiz.

To: prof.torres@college.edu

Subject: Assignment Extension

Dear Professor Torres,

This is Sam Tinsley and I am in your online Soc course. I have a wedding to attend this weekend, so I would like permission to submit my paper 8 hours late.

Quiz

How can Sam improve her ask? Select all that apply.

Take Action

Before asking for an extension request, make sure you:

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This Byte has been authored by

EL

Emily Larin

Career Development Instructor